This is the 11th consecutive year that the Financial Times has published its ranking of executive MBA programmes – part-time MBA degrees for senior working managers. The ranking aims to give a thorough assessment of EMBAs worldwide through a survey of business schools and their alumni.

To be eligible to participate in the ranking, schools must meet strict criteria for inclusion. Most notably, schools must be internationally accredited and the EMBA programme must have run for at least four consecutive years. For this year’s ranking, 129 business schools took part – eight more than in 2010.

Once schools had demonstrated their compliance with the criteria for inclusion, two sets of online surveys were used to collect the data. The first was completed by the schools, and the second by students who graduated three years ago.

For schools to remain eligible, a 20 per cent response rate is required from alumni, with a minimum of 20 responses for schools with fewer than 100 alumni in the graduating class. This year, a total of 5,255 responses were submitted by alumni, representing 55 per cent of 2008 graduates.

Once the surveys are closed, the data from the alumni questionnaires are used to compile the first five of the ranking’s criteria. The published figures for these criteria include information collated by the FT over three years.

The data collected in 2011 account for 50 per cent of the total weight and those from 2010 and 2009 25 per cent each. If only two years of data are available for a school, this year’s survey carries 60 per cent weight, and the 2010 survey carries 40 per cent.

The first four criteria in the ranking table examine the salaries and career progression of alumni from commencing their EMBA to today – typically a period of five years. These criteria contribute 50 per cent of the final score.

To calculate the figure presented in “Salary today (US$)”, the salaries of alumni working in the non-profit and public service sectors, and those who are full-time students, are removed. Purchasing power parity rates supplied by the International Monetary Fund are used to convert the remaining salary data to US$ PPP-equivalent figures. PPP rates of currency conversion account for differences in purchasing power between countries, thereby enabling alumni salaries to be compared meaningfully.

Following this conversion, the highest and lowest 15 per cent of salaries are excluded before the mean average wage, “Salary today (US$)”, is calculated for each school. The salary percentage increase, “Salary increase %”, is calculated for each school according to the difference in average alumni salary before starting their EMBA and three years after graduation.

The “Career progress” measure quantifies changes in alumni levels of professional seniority and the size of their employer from the point of enrolling to three years after graduation. “Work experience” takes into account the seniority of alumni, the size of their employer, the length of time they remained with that company and any international work experience – all before they commenced their EMBA programme.

The fifth criterion, “Aims achieved”, assesses the extent to which the school has enabled respondents to fulfil their most important goals for undertaking an EMBA. This measure carries 5 per cent of the final total.

The next eight criteria, collectively accounting for 25 per cent of the final rank, are calculated using data provided through the business school survey. These criteria measure the diversity of each school’s teaching staff, board members and EMBA students, according to gender and nationality, and the international reach of the EMBA programme.

Of the final three criteria, constituting the remaining 20 per cent of the total ranking, two are based on data from the school survey. The final criterion in the table, “FT research rank”, is calculated according to the relative number of articles published by each school’s full-time faculty members in 45 internationally recognised academic and practitioner journals. The period for which publications are assessed is January 2008 to August 2011. For each publication, a point (or a fraction, if there is more than one author) is awarded to the school where the author is now employed. The rank measure combines the absolute number of publications with the number of publications weighted relative to the faculty’s size.

After all calculations have been applied to the data for each of the different ranking criteria, an FT score is calculated for each school. First, a Z-score – a mathematical formula that creates numbers reflecting the range of the points – is calculated for each of the measures. These scores are added together, giving a final total score from which the schools are ranked in descending order to compose the FT’s EMBA ranking 2011.

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